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Better training needed after loco fire

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/04/2017

A fire at a train yard in Palmerston North was allowed to burn on because staff had inadequate training and there were no standards in place to fight the blaze, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission has found.

The fire, at a Kiwirail yard on November 24, 2015, began when there was a failure in the insulation of a high-voltage cable on a light freight locomotive.

No one was hurt but the fire burned for nearly two hours before being put out by the fire service.

It was fueled by a constant supply of oil from a 3000-litre reservoir that could not be shut off.

The commission's report, released on Friday, says it was an example of an accident in a sector that had no fire detection and suppression system standards adopted across the rail system.

"The operator of the locomotive (Kiwirail) relied on its staff to apply best judgement when dealing with fires, rather than providing specific documentation and training," the report found.

From the maintenance records, it was not possible to determine if the failed cable was new or second-hand.

The commission recommended developing a fire standard that incorporates minimising sources of fire ignition, having appropriate firefighting equipment available and installing fire protection systems.

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